Cheesed off: Amsterdam to curb tourist shops amid visitor influx

by Elle Hunt


New outlets largely catering to visitors, such as bike rentals, will be banned from the city’s historic centre.

Amsterdam is banning new shops targeting tourists in the city’s historic centre in the latest attempt to reclaim it for residents.

The city government announced on Thursday that ticket shops, bike rental companies, cheese shops and other retailers or attractions catering mainly or exclusively for tourists would be prevented from opening in parts of the Centre district.

The number of shops selling food for immediate consumption, such as ice cream and doughnuts, will also be limited in about 40 shopping streets around the centre.

Kajsa Ollongren, deputy mayor for economic affairs, said inner-city buildings designated for retail were increasingly being occupied by shops geared towards tourists, reducing the variety of outlets for residents.

“The situation in our city centre requires firm measures. I see too many shops offering more of the same, solely targeting tourists.”

Though tourists were “very welcome” in the city, she said she wanted to ensure the centre remained attractive and liveable for residents. The Centre district is also home to the majority of Amsterdam’s landmarks.

The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, and alderpersons (executive board) agreed the plan in consultation with the Centre district and with the consent of the city council.

Though the restriction was effective immediately, a zoning plan would be introduced for the specific purpose and finalised next year. The city government would publish guidelines identifying what retailers would be affected, taking into account advertising, presentation, product ranges and business operations.

The decision follows other steps by the city government to manage the impact of increasing numbers of tourists. About 17 million people visited the city of 850,000 residents in 2016, up from 12 million five years earlier.

Last month the city government announced that the tax on tourists’ rooms in the city centre would increase from 5% to 6% in 2018, following protests by residents over the industry’s detrimental impact.

There are to be no new hotels in large parts of the city.



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